Green spam

I get spam.. lots of it.. hundreds of pieces of junk email a day. Given my line of business it’s just an occupational hazard.

What I’ve learned through spam is you can tell what’s getting really popular and lucrative when the spammers also start to take notice.

Today I received my first piece of “green” spam. The subject line was “Don’t invest in gold, invest in green”. It was touting yet another miracle, totally natural and sustainably produced exotic fruit drink that would do all sorts of things for me; probably including some of the incredible and pretty much impossible physical, umm.. enhancements, that other types of spam offer :).

While it was an annoying interruption, I also see the very positive side. Spammers don’t waste their time peddling products where there’s no interest. When you see a product being promoted via spam in a certain way, it means there’s healthy demand – and high profit margins. So from that side of things, it was very interesting to see green hitting “mainstream” in such a way.

But I also wanted to flag a warning – green spam will only increase; so be really careful when receiving unsolicited email about earth friendly products that you research whatever is being hawked thoroughly before reaching for your credit card.

Delve into the company offering the product – don’t rely on on-site reviews; search around. This particularly applies to nutritional products as often they are just a terribly overpriced source of Vitamin C you could get from a glass of orange juice.

They’ll try to suck you in with blurbs like “grown at the base of the Himalayas in a remote town where the water is pure and air is clean” or “A secret guarded for centuries that will help you become more healthy and in harmony with the environment”.

The accompanying web sites will have glowing testimonials and make all sorts of claims. There may be even offers of starting your own business selling the product in a network marketing arrangement. I’m not stating that all these products are ripoffs, but many I’ve come across are.

Another problem is greenwashing – this is the conscious process whereby companies mislead people about their environmental practices; making themselves and their products to appear to be more earth friendly than they really are.

Yet another risk is what is called “vaporware” – a product being marketed that simply doesn’t exist. With so many people eager to do good things to lessen their environmental impact, it makes them a target for unscrupulous parties. A large email campaign can be launched quite easily, eager consumers then pay their cash and are told shipping may take up to a month, then the merchant just disappears.

I’d hate to see folks who are just starting to switch on to the world of green living being sucked into this sort of thing and then being discouraged from pursuing an earth friendly lifestyle.

Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware.

On a somewhat related topic – did you know that the average adult in the USA receives a whopping 41 pounds of junk mail a year? Collectively, that’s a lot of trees. Learn more about stopping junk mail.